Taking the stage to the sounds of Bruce Springsteen, Christie accused both Trump and Biden of “making us small” by dividing Americans. He called Biden a “good guy” but said he was out of his depth, referring to the 80-year-old.
Christie, who has always enjoyed the town hall format, spent nearly two hours answering questions after his opening remarks, ranging from his stance on abortion to his views on China.
When an audience member asked him about the recent debt ceiling deal reached by Biden and congressional Republicans, Christie praised both parties for averting disaster.
“When did compromise become such a dirty word?” he said.
Christie ran for president in 2016 but ended his run after a disappointing finish in the New Hampshire primary, becoming the first major party figure to endorse Trump.
He has since rejected Trump, a shift that could attract Republicans willing to move past Trump. But it remains unclear whether any Republican can prevail in a crowded field without the support of Trump’s still-loyal base.
As the underdog, Christie may end up playing the role of spoiler, as he did in 2016, when his takedown of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in a debate days before Christie dropped out of the race blunted Rubio’s momentum.
Christie rejected the idea that he was running only to stop Trump, not to win.
“How are those two things mutually exclusive?” He asked for a laugh. “The boy is ahead in the elections. Who should I worry about, Nikki Haley?’
As the Republican governor of Democratic-leaning New Jersey from 2009 to 2017, Christie was once seen as a rising political star whose confrontational approach earned him praise from fans and accusations of bullying from detractors.
But his tenure was marred by the Bridgegate scandal, when two allies closed lanes of traffic on the George Washington Bridge between New Jersey and New York City to punish the local mayor for not endorsing Christie’s re-election bid.
Christie said he was not aware of the plot, but witnesses in the criminal trial for the two allies testified that the governor knew about the line closure. On Tuesday, he said he took responsibility for putting his trust in the wrong people, calling it his biggest mistake.
Despite his early support for Trump, Christie was replaced as vice president and attorney general and fired as head of Trump’s transition team just three days after the 2016 election.
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